The Saint-Camille Co-operative Initiatives Home Care, Housing and Rural Development

New Economy Development Group / Groupe Éconov Développement with Le Coopérative - La Clé, June 2005

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Summary :

This case study looks at how a small rural community in Québec has aimed to reverse the trend of rural de-population, and rebuild services and economic opportunities for local people. The community of Saint-Camille established a housing co-op and two ‘solidarity co-ops’ (also known as multi-stakeholder co-operatives) as a way to pool the resources of local residents and development organizations to address the needs of seniors, and to attract young families and other populations to their community.

The housing co-operative established in 2000 has allowed local seniors to stay in their community and receive the support they need to remain as independent as possible. The co-op currently has nine special needs units, with room for expansion if required, and the facility also contains a community kitchen and a health care clinic for visiting health professionals.

La Corvée, a ‘care and services’ co-op, was set up to provide special needs care for seniors in the housing co-op and for the general public in Saint-Camille and nearby communities. In 2005 the co-op had 65 members, including 45 service users, 15 supporting agency members, and 2 worker members. The co-operative also provides community gardens, recreational programs, and a ‘support for living’ service for seniors who wish to stay in their own homes.

The latest community initiative is Coopérative La Clé des Champs, another solidarity co-op that aims to renew the community’s farming and forestry economy. The co-op began by creating a 12-acre market garden, and the plan is to develop a neighborhood of new homes around the agricultural area, allowing each family to grow some of its own food. The co-op also hopes to develop micro-farms on fallow land in the area and explore local value-added opportunities - a plan that is hoped to appeal to young families interested in combining small-scale farming with off-farm jobs. Finally, the co-op is working on a plan to harvest non-timber forest products in the area, which would offer more local jobs and value-added opportunities.

This detailed case study of the Saint-Camille co-operatives explores the development process, the partners involved, the strengths, and the challenges as these co-ops work to revitalize their community.

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